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Requirements for development and adaptation of complex measurement tools in sociology: reliability, validity and trustworthiness


The article dwells upon main characteristics of sociological research quality (reliability, validity and trustworthiness) as well as general logic of their testing. Complex measurement instruments divided into scales and indexes are in the focus. Scales aim to measure certain qualities that are not explicitly observed (latent variables) and determine characteristics, which underlie the indicators of the measurement technique. When using integral indices, latent variables or social phenomenon are determined by the factors based on which indicators are formulated. Reliability is viewed as repeatability of measurement or absence of random errors.

Authors distinguish such approaches towards reliability testing as a test-retest (level of rigidity of the measurement in some time), parallel forms (level of equivalence of two forms of the same scale), and internal consistency (consistency of results of different indicators). In the most general perspective, validity is viewed as correspondence degree of the research process results to the reality. Integrated approach towards validation of measurement scales and integral indices includes two stages – theoretical and empirical validation.

Theoretical validation implies reaching the sufficient level of correspondence of theoretical construct to phenomenon under study, while empirical validation implies testing the accordance of measurement technique and results that were obtained while using it with the theoretical construct. Thus, theoretical validity is achieved first, and then empirical validity is tested. Trustworthiness of measurement is viewed as a respondent’s capability and desire to report information in which the researcher is interested. Usage of reliable and valid measurement technique does not guarantee obtaining required data when it is not possible to assure trustworthiness of measurement.

It is recommended to use index of subjective reliability to test trustworthiness. Recommendations regarding general logic of validity and reliability testing of complex measurement techniques and requirements towards design and sample size of the survey are presented in the article.

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